In Ireland, testimonies from thousands of eye witnesses to the Catholic uprising of 1641 have been transcribed and made available online as part of a three-year project by researchers at the University of Cambridge, The University of Aberdeen and Trinity College Dublin. The project involved transcribing all 19,000 pages of the original depositions, many of which were almost illegible.
Analysis of fossil teeth and part of a jaw unearthed in southern China in 2007 has suggested that ‘modern’ humans may have reached East Asia 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. The fragments found are believed to belong to a ‘modern’ human who lived 100,000 years ago and show the species’ distinctive chin and lower jaw.
Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by experts at the University of Manchester has shown that cancer was a rare occurrence among ancient Egyptians. Around 1,000 mummies were examined but just one case of cancer was found. However, although cases of cancer were a rarity, Egyptologists believe that few Egyptians would have lived beyond the age of 40.
Back in England, research by English Heritage archaeologists has suggested that Silbury Hill in Wiltshire may have been created in 15 distinct layers over 100 years – hundreds of years quicker than previously thought. The man-made hill is thought to have been completed in around 2,400 BC, but began life as a bank and ditch before being made into a hill.
In other history news, hundreds of books written by or about Victorian author Charles Dickens are to be made available to the public for the first time. The collection of around 400 pieces, which includes valuable first editions, photographs of the novelist and all of his major novels plus many of his minor works, was originally donated to Eastgate House Museum in 1912 by author and critic Percy Fitzgerald who was a friend of the great writer.
Elsewhere, excavation of a cave in southeastern Armenia has revealed a fragment of a reed skirt thought to be 5,900 years old, potentially making it one if the world’s oldest pieces of reed clothing. Earlier excavations at the site have already unearthed a 5,500-year-old leather shoe, as well as a mummified goat that could be more than 1,000 years older than any other mummified animal found in Egypt to date.
Germany is to publish a report revealing new information about the role of the German foreign ministry during and after the Second World War. The report, commissioned by German foreign minister Joschka Fischer in 2005, is said to state that the ministry ‘actively encouraged’ the Holocaust to a much greater degree than previously thought.
In art news, seven oil paintings created by notorious gangster Reggie Kray while he was in prison in the 1970s are to be auctioned in Lincoln in November. The works could fetch between £200 and £300 each.
And finally, North Carolina democrat Tim Spear has come under fire after inadvertently sending voters a leaflet showing actors in Second World War-era German uniforms. The leaflet, which was designed to demonstrate his support for the US military, read: “In combat, you always want another soldier covering your back”.